This book considers the nature of the interaction between birds and hunter-gatherers in Western Europe. It examines aspects of avian behaviour and the qualities targeted at different periods by hunter-gatherers, who recognised the utility of the diversity of avian groups in various applications of daily life and thought.
Man and Bird in the Palaeolithic of Western Europe considers the nature of the interaction between birds and hunter-gatherers. It examines aspects of avian behaviour and the qualities that could be (and were) targeted at different periods by hunter-gatherers, who recognised the utility of the diversity of avian groups in various applications of daily life and thought. It is clear from the records of excavated sites in western Europe that during the evolution of both the Neanderthal period and the subsequent occupations of Homo sapiens, avian demographics fluctuated with the climate along with other aspects of both flora and fauna. Each was required to adapt to these changes. The present study considers these changes through the interactions of man and bird as evidenced in the remains attached to Middle and Upper Palaeolithic occupation sites in western Europe and touches on a variety of prey/predator relationships across other groups of plant and animal species. The book describes a range of procurement strategies that are known from the literature and artistic record of later cultures to have been used in the trapping, enticement and hunting of birds for consumption and the manufacture of weapons, domestic items, clothing, ceremony and cultural activities. It also explores how bird images and depictions engraved or painted on the walls of caves or on the objects of daily use during the Upper Palaeolithic may be perceived as communications of a more profound significance for the temporal, seasonal or social life of the members of the group than the simple concept of animal. Certain bird species have at different times held a special significance in the everyday consciousness of particular peoples and a group of Late Glacial, Magdalenian settlements in Aquitaine, France, appear to be an example of such specialised culling. A case study of the treatment of snowy owl at Arancou in the Atlantic Pyrenees seems to illustrate such a specialisation. Discussion of the problems of reconciling dating and research methods, of the last two hundred years of Palaeolithic research, and of possible directions for future research offer an open conclusion to the work.
List of Figures
Chapter 1. Some aspects of bird life during the Palaeolithic of western Europe
Chapter 2. Birds of the Middle Palaeolithic in Britain and western Europe
Chapter 3. The Upper Palaeolithic in western Europe
Chapter 4. The bird catcher, fowling techniques down the ages
Chapter 5. Bird images in the parietal art of Palaeolithic France and Spain
Chapter 6. Bird images in Palaeolithic portable art
Chapter 7. Avian resources in hunter-gatherer communities
Chapter 8. Case study: snowy owls at the Grotte de Bourrouilla at Arancou, Atlantic Pyrenees
Index of sites used in tables
Index of bird species mentioned in the tables of Chapters 1-3
At the age of seven, Anne Eastham’s questions regarding the behaviour of the local avifauna drove her parents to purchase the five volumes of Witherby on British birds, while a Victorian rubbish heap invited excavation. Both predilections persisted. Post London University, she continued research into the identification, physical, cultural and habitat interpretation of avian assemblages from archaeological sites. This was financed through teaching, with students ranging from Special Needs Primary to Post-graduates. Her published reports cover sites in Britain, Europe and the Near East, dated to the medieval, Roman and Prehistoric eras, particularly the Palaeolithic.